We’re a little late getting the garden started. In Eastern Ontario, the long weekend in May is traditionally considered the safe garden planting time. With the warming climate, some say the average last frost date in our region is actually around May 6th, although it certainly wouldn’t have paid off to plant delicate plants that early this year. While I do wish we would have had the plants in the ground earlier, we did A LOT of work on the garden so far this year. Here is what we’ve done so far:
Built four new fenced raised beds out of local cedar (two 3 x 8 and two 3 x 6). We have beautiful maple trees on our backyard, hence a fair bit of shade, so the beds are in our side yard and front yard, all the better to eliminate as much lawn as possible. As my neighbour says, “I have no use for grass – it doesn’t flower and I can’t eat it.” Although I was a bit apprehensive about building obvious garden beds in our front yard, the response has been encouraging so far. We’ve had a number of people stop and comment, including another neighbour who is thinking about building some in their front yard next year. I feel like I’m making a political statement, yet it’s really based on practically.
Filled said raised bed with soil. We got some delivered, which was crazy expensive, and then realized the city of Ottawa has yard waste compost for sale for cheap! It cost us $11 for about half a truckload.
Planted our seedlings as well as a number of store-bought plants. We use the square foot gardening method, where rather than planting in rows, everything is organized around squares. Depending on the type of plant, a different number fit in each square. For example, peas or onions are planted 9 to a square. Larger plants like tomatoes and peppers are planted 1 per square. We chose this method because it’s flexible and a great way to fit in more types of plants in a smaller space. The density of the plantings also crowds out weeds and shades the soil to keep in moisture.
Mulched around the plants with straw. We chose straw because it’s cheap (we paid about $10 a bale) and it’s good for the soil as it breaks down. Be aware that there is a lot of straw in one bale. We bought four, not realizing how tightly packed those bales are. We didn’t even use half of one! Lesson learned – good things it’s cheap!
Planted a kiwi vine and built a trellis. I am possibly the most excited about this. I had read in several gardening books that kiwis can grow in my plant hardiness zone, however no one I spoke with had ever heard this and I hadn’t noticed any at garden stores. I started to think this zone 5 kiwi was actually a myth until lo and behold we found one! This is called a Magical Hardy Kiwi. I think the name is fitting! It grows similar to a grape vine, and goes dormant over the winter. The fruit are smaller than regular kiwis and not fuzzy. They don’t fruit until the fourth of fifth year, so I’m not sure if ours will get fruit this year. But really, I’m just amused seeing the confused looks I get when I tell people I’m growing a kiwi vine in Ottawa. Gardening’s best kept secret!
Planted a blueberry fedge. Did you know that a “fedge” is a food hedge? I didn’t! We’ve been looking for some type of low hedging to put at the front of our property where it edges the sidewalk, and we’ve been reading a lot about permaculture and edible landscaping so blueberries seemed to be the perfect fit. Since the wild strawberry patch in the backyard was all but destroyed in the fence building project last year, I’m excited to have fruit growing in our yard again. I don’t have pictures of the fedge yet, I’ll post some soon!
How is your garden coming along this year? Are you trying anything new?